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Minnesota Vikings at Carolina Panthers: First Quarter Open Thread

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Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
MINNESOTA VIKINGS (2-0) WEEK 3 CAROLINA PANTHERS (1-1)

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Date: 25 September 2016
Location: Charlotte, NC
Time: 12:00 PM Central Stadium: Bank of America Stadium
TV: KMSP-9 (FOX)
DirecTV Ch 710
Radio: Vikings Radio Network
XM Ch 226 (CAR)
Sirius Ch 136
TV Announcers: Chris Myers
Ronde Barber
Know Thy Foe: Cat Scratch Reader
Weather: 81 degrees, winds from the NE at 5 MPH, 0% chance of precipitation
Line: Carolina -7.5, Over/Under 42 (Thanks to the SB Nation Odds page)
Chris' Prediction: Panthers 24, Vikings 20
Final Score: Vikings 22, Panthers 10

Here are the ground rules for the Game Threads:

-Thou shalt not link illegal feeds of today's game, or I shall kick thy arse to the curb until the game is over. Do not promote then, do not mention them, do not even hint at them. Thou hast been warned.

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-Thou shalt not feed the trolls. Rather, thou shall simply point them out, and they shall be banished to the fires of Mordor. Or Wisconsin. Whichever we feel is more harsh at the time.

-Thou shalt not engage in racist, sexist, or other such insulting rhetoric. Somebody disagreeing with you does not make them racist or sexist. It means they disagree with you. Talk it out like adults.

-Thou shalt not bait the fans of other teams into trolling.

-Basically, thou shalt not be a jackwagon in the game thread.

The roller coaster that has been the 2016 season for the Minnesota Vikings is set to make a stop in Charlotte, North Carolina today, as the purple and gold take to the field to battle with the defending NFC Champions, the Carolina Panthers. The Vikings are coming off of a thrilling win over Green Bay in last week's U.S. Bank Stadium opener, while Carolina put up 46 points on an overmatched San Francisco team last Sunday in their home opener.

How can our favorite football team keep themselves undefeated and walk out of Carolina with a 3-0 record today?

1) Pressure Cam Newton - The reigning Most Valuable Player is one of the most unique weapons in the National Football League. He can beat you with his arm or with his feet, and the Vikings need to have a smart, disciplined approach in order to be able to do that. The Panthers' offensive line is still one of their weak spots, particularly at the tackle positions, and the Denver Broncos have shown that the Carolina offense is vulnerable to a good pass rush. The Vikings need to keep the Carolina offense "behind the chains" so that they can turn loose the pass rush, both from the front four and from any potential blitzers to keep the Panthers off-balance.

2) Mix things up offensively - We've talked at length about the loss of running back Adrian Peterson and how it could affect the Minnesota offense, but the Vikings can mitigate the loss. In fact, the Vikings can probably use it to their advantage by mixing things up and giving the Panthers fewer obvious keys to focus on. With the combination of Jerick McKinnon and Matt Asiata at running back (plus whatever Ronnie Hillman might be able to contribute at this point), the team should be better able to run out of shotgun formations and keep things a little more varied to keep a very good Carolina defense on their heels.

3) Continue solid special teams play - A big part of the Vikings' victory last Sunday was the play of their special teams. Jeff Locke had one of the best games of his Vikings career as far as pinning the opponent inside the 20-yard line, and Blair Walsh was booming the ball on kickoffs (and he only got one field goal attempt, due to the Vikings putting the ball into the end zone). Against a team the caliber of Carolina, and in what should be a more defense-centric contest, a mistake on special teams could potentially be the difference between winning and losing. If Locke and Walsh have gotten themselves right, the Minnesota special teams could be a strength, both on that side and with the return prowess of Cordarrelle Patterson and Marcus Sherels.

One final thing about this contest in particular. . .

Given the real world events of this week, there has been a lot going on in Charlotte over the past few days. If you want to talk about those events, regardless of context, please take your commentary to one of the roughly eight billion other websites on the internet that's designed for that sort of thing. This thread, and the subsequent Open Threads, are about what's happening on the football field, not what's happening outside the stadium or in the city of Charlotte at large.

That's your warning. If you choose not to read it, or read it and choose to ignore it, your stay here is going to get cut short.

With that, we're less than an hour away from kickoff at Bank of America Stadium. Here's hoping that my prediction for today's game ends up being incorrect and the purple can leave Charlotte this afternoon with a 3-0 record.

SKOLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL VIKINGS!!!!